EC was here

As of last night, I can die happy. The last major musical act on my list of lifetime concert goals has been scratched off: I saw Eric Clapton in concert.

Being a guitar player, especially one who likes the blues, it’s nearly impossible not to like Clapton. Sure, he gets negative press from purists because he uses too many effects, or because he’s too “pop,” but I think that even his naysayers have to acknowledge that he’s been a musical presence and influence on rock ‘n roll for nearly forty years.

Yes, forty years. For longer than I’ve been alive, this man has been a driving force in music. I’ve been playing guitar as a hobbyist for over 20 years now, and EC has always been an influence on me.

In my opinion, one of the areas for which Clapton doesn’t get enough credit is his vocals. The man has a very wide stylistic range, and can jump from growling the Delta Blues to singing bouncing reggae to twanging country songs with no apparent shift in mindset. His shift in voice is just another performance technique that he has honed over the years, like his guitar stylings.

Thanks, EC, for playing Denver this time around, and for bring such fine musicians as Billy Preston and Doyle Bramhall II along for the ride.

Southern Cross and Primer

We worked more on the house last night; the upstairs hallway (and all seven doors in it) are now painted and my wife primered (?) over some stenciled roses in the bedroom. Tonight we’re going to a Colorado Rockies game, so we won’t get any painting done. But tomorrow, while she’s at work, I will try to get the stairwell painted. I read more of Sophie’s World last night, and I also got a couple of books in the mail that I’ve been looking forward to for quite a while. Where the Southern Cross the Dog (Fairwood Press) and Veil of the Soul (Yard Dog Press) are chapbooks by Trey Barker, a writer-stagehand-musician-former radio personality-funny guy in Illinois. I’m especially looking forward to Where the Southern Cross the Dog, because the stories in it are inspired by Mississippi Delta Blues. When I complete each, I will post a review on this site.


Organized writing group folders in gig bag, considered critiquing a couple of stories for Wednesday’s group. Went to see Spider-Man instead. That movie kicks; not only are the effects great, it’s a very human story that took me back to my comic collecting days and awoke some old memories and feelings that I hadn’t acknowledged for a while. Inspired (inspidered?), I practiced electric guitar at home. Tried to learn “Finish What You Started” by Van Halen. Keith and I took advantage of the fact that he had his upright bass home from school and I taught him how to play a basic 12 bar blues bass line on it. It was cool to be able to share music with my son.

Ledbetter Heights

Ledbetter Heights

By: Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Type: Hard Edged Blues

Hot Tracks:

  • Born With a Broken Heart
  • Deja Voodoo
  • While We Cry (Live)
  • Aberdeen

This album makes me wonder if reincarnation is a reality. Young Kenny has Stevie Ray Vaughan’s patented Strat tone down pat, as well as much of his playing style. The first time I heard him, I thought it was an unreleased Stevie Ray track with a different vocalist. At first, this turned me off, but it has now been two years since Ledbetter Heights came out, and I have a different perspective. I have decided that Kenny is not trying to make money off of Stevie’s chops, he is merely greatly influenced by him. This is no different than Stevie himself building a reputation on his interpretations of Lonnie Mack, Albert King and Jimi Hendrix. Shepherd makes all the appropriate nods to the blues greats that made his music possible and covers some classics on this first release as well.

Most of this album is pure KWS, though. Kenny is trying very hard to show that he does have his own voice on guitar. His cover of “Aberdeen” demonstrates his dexterity at slide guitar, with two different slide parts playing in perfect synch and pitch in either channel of the mix. “Riverside” features slide as well, though this in a lazy day feeling blues ballad. If I had to pick a direction in which Shepherd is most likely to establish a distinctive voice, I would say that his slide playing was it.

He handles straight electric blues tunes very well also. In fact, the more I listen to this album the more I like it and wonder where such a young talent could come from. There’s that reincarnation thing again, but he can’t be reincarnated from Stevie because he knew Stevie. Hmmm….

I look forward to future albums by this young guitar monster. I also hope he is successful in dispelling the rumors about his motivation and can continue to develop his own style. If he keeps playing like this, he will. He needs to pay his dues before being ranked among the top players, but I don’t think it will take long for his dues to be paid up.

Rating (out of a possible five):